United States

Alexandra Forsch

President, Awin US

2020 showed us the importance of being a good partner. COVID-19 had obvious effects on our clients and publishers; some were impacted more than others, and we approached each situation individually and with empathy. One of the methods we used to help brands in 2020 was to reintroduce certain publisher types to resolve their pressing needs. For example, optimizing deal sites to help liquidate any unwanted inventory attracted consumers looking for cheaper products and services. Overall, it was imperative for us to maintain our relationships, as I think people will remember how they were treated during some of the more challenging periods.

Michelle Morgan
Director, Publisher Development, Acceleration Partners

331.8m

Population

US Dollar ($)

Currency

88%

Internet penetration rate

14%

Ecommerce penetration rate
(% of total retail)

73%

Mobile penetration rate

$232.3b

Total ad spend (USD)

$142.4b

Digital ad spend (USD)

$8.5b

Affiliate ad spend estimate (USD)

20%

Projected ad spend growth 2021

49,249
Advertisers
143,741
Publishers
Share of sales by device
Share of sales by publisher type
38%
Coupon Code
21%
Loyalty & Cashback
15%
Social
13%
Content
10%
Sub Networks
1%
Search
1%
Tech Partners
1%
Display
1%
Email
1%
Comparison

Our growing network of partners boosted awareness of the products and services that Deluxe offers to small businesses in the last year – an audience that wouldn’t have been reached through other marketing means. At network level, Awin was extremely responsive and helpful throughout 2020 with its timely provision of data and insight into our performance, and presenting of growth opportunities.

Datch Haven
Affiliate Marketing Manager, Deluxe

Examining the US

While 2020 has undoubtedly been the unprecedented year, that sentiment is particularly true of the United States, which not only faced the deadliest health pandemic in a century but also a historic presidential election and one of its biggest and most broadly supported racial justice movements – all in just 12 months.

COVID-19 swept the US in March, with the nation ultimately beginning its 30-day lockdown shortly thereafter. Over 330 million Americans were obliged to stay home and there was a notable surge in ecommerce spend following restrictions on in-store purchases. Online retailers saw record performances but had to juggle those increased volumes with diminishing inventories due to COVID-19’s impact on distribution.

The murder of George Floyd in May shone a renewed spotlight on all Black lives lost due to police brutality and racial injustice in the US, and this fission carried through the remainder of 2020, intensified by a divisive presidential election that saw Joe Biden and Kamala Harris ultimately named President-elect and Vice President-elect. Both will be tasked to reunite a nation that is suffering the consequences of these these racial injustices, unemployment, eviction and even hunger despite having one of the world’s largest economies.

Amid the turbulent times, affiliate marketing provided a beacon of opportunity by welcoming many new partners seeking an alternative, viable income stream. Record-breaking program launches and publisher sign-ups were reported across Awin US and ShareASale – a movement that was further magnified by numerous Amazon Associates leaving Amazon after seeing their commissions cut by up to 50% in April. Through introducing over 12,000 experienced affiliate marketers to our US networks, the opportunity for incremental revenue growth is significant as Amazon dominated the retail space with a 90% customer retention rate.

Through introducing over 12,000 experienced affiliate marketers to our US networks, the opportunity for incremental revenue growth is significant.

To guide strategic decisions throughout the crisis, our teams sought to contextualize consumer behavior trends across the various sectors we support. Awin and ShareASale launched a COVID-19 content hub with educational webinars, optimization guides, partnership recommendations, thought pieces and financial support resources to help our partners navigate the crisis.

We also worked to enable more revenue-generating partnerships faster. ShareASale made critical paid-for services like its Recruitment Tool and merchant Program Academy free of charge, while Awin optimized the onboarding experience and introduced the new Agency Resource and Partner Success Centers – the latter offering a wealth of guidance on how to make the most of our network. 

With the onset of racial justice movements, we also challenged and bolstered our own diversity and inclusivity activities. In June, Awin US implemented the cloud-based web accessibility assistive toolbar Recite Me to help some of the one billion people globally that have a disability and face barriers when visiting inaccessible websites. Additionally, our teams began diversity and inclusion training and we implemented a global Black Lives Matter taskforce that has multiple US stakeholders helping to implement change within our organization.

November brought a historic Cyber Week for Awin and ShareASale - with Black Friday outperforming Cyber Monday by 15% across both sales and revenue.

Support for those impacted by 2020’s challenges extended beyond our platforms, and Awin advertiser Etsy, a global marketplace for one-of-a-kind goods, was one of several clients that understood the unique opportunity it offered to small businesses impacted by the virus. Etsy conducted a #StandWithSmall initiative through its Awin programs that reaped massive success and praise, ultimately securing Best Influencer Marketing Campaign at the 2020 International Performance Marketing Awards. 

In November we witnessed a history-making election, but it also brought a historic Cyber Week for Awin and ShareASale, generating 1.3 million transactions, $139 million in advertiser revenue and $12 million in publisher commission, with Black Friday outperforming Cyber Monday by 15% across both sales and revenue.

Finally, a difficult but rewarding year was capped off with Awin winning the prestigious ‘Best Affiliate Marketing Platform’ at the Digiday Technology Awards, and ShareASale picking up both ‘#1 Top Entry-Level Platform’ and ‘#2 Top Ease of Use’ from Martech Record.

Amid the turbulent times, affiliate marketing provided a beacon of opportunity by welcoming many new partners seeking an alternative, viable income stream. Record-breaking program launches and publisher sign-ups were reported across Awin US and ShareASale – a movement that was further magnified by numerous Amazon Associates leaving Amazon after seeing their commissions cut by up to 50% in April. Through introducing over 12,000 experienced affiliate marketers to our US networks, the opportunity for incremental revenue growth is significant as Amazon dominated the retail space with a 90% customer retention rate.

Through introducing over 12,000 experienced affiliate marketers to our US networks, the opportunity for incremental revenue growth is significant.

To guide strategic decisions throughout the crisis, our teams sought to contextualize consumer behavior trends across the various sectors we support. Awin and ShareASale launched a COVID-19 content hub with educational webinars, optimization guides, partnership recommendations, thought pieces and financial support resources to help our partners navigate the crisis.

We also worked to enable more revenue-generating partnerships faster. ShareASale made critical paid-for services like its Recruitment Tool and merchant Program Academy free of charge, while Awin optimized the onboarding experience and introduced the new Agency Resource and Partner Success Centers – the latter offering a wealth of guidance on how to make the most of our network. 

With the onset of racial justice movements, we also challenged and bolstered our own diversity and inclusivity activities. In June, Awin US implemented the cloud-based web accessibility assistive toolbar Recite Me to help some of the one billion people globally that have a disability and face barriers when visiting inaccessible websites. Additionally, our teams began diversity and inclusion training and we implemented a global Black Lives Matter taskforce that has multiple US stakeholders helping to implement change within our organization.

November brought a historic Cyber Week for Awin and ShareASale - with Black Friday outperforming Cyber Monday by 15% across both sales and revenue.

Support for those impacted by 2020’s challenges extended beyond our platforms, and Awin advertiser Etsy, a global marketplace for one-of-a-kind goods, was one of several clients that understood the unique opportunity it offered to small businesses impacted by the virus. Etsy conducted a #StandWithSmall initiative through its Awin programs that reaped massive success and praise, ultimately securing Best Influencer Marketing Campaign at the 2020 International Performance Marketing Awards. 

In November we witnessed a history-making election, but it also brought a historic Cyber Week for Awin and ShareASale, generating 1.3 million transactions, $139 million in advertiser revenue and $12 million in publisher commission, with Black Friday outperforming Cyber Monday by 15% across both sales and revenue.

Finally, a difficult but rewarding year was capped off with Awin winning the prestigious ‘Best Affiliate Marketing Platform’ at the Digiday Technology Awards, and ShareASale picking up both ‘#1 Top Entry-Level Platform’ and ‘#2 Top Ease of Use’ from Martech Record.

Awin Talks
Meet the market
Michael Jaconi, CEO & Co-Founder of mobile commerce platform Button, discusses the state of affiliate and digital marketing out in the US with Awin Talks host Rob Davinson. Recorded in January 2021.

I think the most important industry trend to watch for in 2021 will be the evolution of personalization and data-sharing. Personalization is not some out-of-the-blue trend, but I only expect it to continue to increase in importance. 

Related to affiliate marketing, the ability of publishers to leverage data to target customers at a more granular level is bound to increase the overall efficiency of the channel for everyone. However, this cannot happen without access to more robust data. It’s important for every party - networks, advertisers, and publishers - to do their best to provide transparency beyond just clicks and conversions.

Adam Dahlen
VP of Client Success, PartnerCentric
12.7%
conversion rate
+$1m
revenue
40%
new customers making second purchase
Figure 1

Using content to drive revenue during COVID-19

12.7%
conversion rate
+$1m
revenue
40%
new customers
making second
purchase
Figure 1

Amidst coronavirus, LA Apparel launched its inaugural affiliate program on the ShareASale platform alongside full-service digital marketing agency DMiPartners.

Upon becoming sale active, LA Apparel and DMi leveraged mass media to produce coverage for the retailer’s new mask line - tapping into a cost-effective, yet powerful, method of promotion.

After just one month, by maximizing the ShareASale platform, LA Apparel realized great success and secured ample coverage across high-profile content publications.

Loyalty has already proven to be an extremely successful marketing tactic within affiliate, and now there is this new and emerging wave of neobank and fintech companies embracing it in the US which is where I think we'll see a lot of exciting growth in the channel in 2021.

Michael Jaconi
CEO & Co-Founder, Button
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